Tasty Tumeric

As published in Triathlete Magazine 2012


Tumeric is a root from the ginger family. The rhizomes have a ginger-pepper flavor which is used to flavor curry powder, prepared mustard, dressing, cheeses and butter.  This is the spice that lends the bright yellow/orange color to many different curry powders.

Tumeric has been employed in nutritional medicine for centuries.  The active phytochemical in turmeric is curcumin, which has antioxidant properties that prevent the formation of, and neutralize existing, free radicals.  Studies have shown that curcumin can inhibit molecules in the body that trigger the inflammation response.  Reducing inflammation will aid in the recovery and regeneration of tissue, which is the main goal after your training.  One potentially negative effect of curcumin is that it stimulates bile secretion and acts as a blood-thinner, so those with biliarly tract obstruction or taking an anticoagulant for blood clots would want to avoid this spice.

Enlisting the anti-inflammatory benefits of curcumin can be delicious.  The most common use of this spice is as the main character in curried meals.  One of my favorites is curried lentil soup.  I add heaping piles of kale to this soup to really increase the health benefit but you can omit this portion of the recipe if you prefer a more traditional (and far less green) lentil soup or substitute another green, leafy vegetable you might prefer.  Enjoy!

Curried Lentil Soup  

路        8 cups water

路        1 tbsp coconut oil

路        3 cups red lentils (rinse repeatedly then drain water in a strainer)

路        1.5 tsp kosher salt

路        3 cans coconut milk


路        1 tbsp coconut oil

路        1 large onion, diced

路        2 cloves garlic, minced

路        4 tsp fresh ginger, minced

路        3 tsp ground turmeric

路        2 tsp ground coriander

路        2 tsp roasted cumin seeds

路        One large bunch of kale, washed and chopped


Combine the water, coconut oil, lentils and salt into a large pot.  Bring to a boil then turn down to simmer for 20 to 25 minutes.

Add the coconut milk and continue to simmer gently.

Heat a dry frying pan over high heat.  Add cumin seeds and roast for 2-3 minutes until they start to smell fragrant.  Remove and crush in a mortar and pestle then add to the soup (if you don鈥檛 have a mortar and pestle the seeds themselves are still tasty added directly to the soup.)

Add another tablespoon of coconut oil to the warmed frying pan (you don鈥檛 need to wash it after the cumin), melt the oil and add the diced onion.  Sweat the onions for 2-3 minutes on medium-high heat and add the rest of the garlic and spices to the pan.  Cook until the onions are brown then put the entire contents of the pan into the soup. 

Add the chopped kale.  Simmer for 5 minutes.  Serve and enjoy!





Chainani-wu N. Safety and Anti-Inflammatory Activity of Curcumin: A Component of Tumeric (Curcuma longa). 2003. The J of Alt and Comp Med 9(1):161-8 

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